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Singapore Airlines cuts more flights; Changi sees 33% drop in passengers

Melissa Heng and Clement Yong

The Straits Times/Asia News Network

 /  Sat, March 14, 2020  /  03:04 pm
Singapore Airlines cuts more flights; Changi sees 33% drop in passengers

A Singapore Airlines employee wears a medical mask for protection against the novel coronavirus outbreak at LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal on February 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP/David McNew)

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has cut more flights to China and Italy, with more cancellations to Europe set to come as the Republic announces new travel restrictions.

The move comes after SIA and SilkAir axed thousands of flights to countries such as India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand earlier.

The impact of the coronavirus on global travel can be seen at Changi Airport, which experienced a 32.8 percent decline in passenger movements last month, compared with the same period last year.

As of Monday, the available seat capacity at Changi Airport for March has also fallen by close to 30 percent of what was originally scheduled, said the Changi Airport Group (CAG).

An SIA spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday that the cuts announced to date will result in a 15.6 percent reduction in capacity for both SIA and SilkAir.

In total, the SIA Group, which also comprises budget airline Scoot, has cut its capacity by 18.7 percent compared with what it had originally scheduled from February to the end of May.

Read also: Singapore Airlines chief, senior staff take pay cut as air travel demand drops

In a statement yesterday, CAG said the fall in passenger movement fits in with patterns recorded in every other region of the world last month, with the exception of Africa.

Given the perception that the coronavirus originated in Asia, South-east Asia and North-east Asia were the most impacted, with the number of people travelling in and out of China almost halving last month - the largest decrease among major markets in Asia.

Hong Kong also saw a 75 percent drop in passenger movement. The corresponding figure for South Korea is 46 percent, Taiwan 38 percent, and Thailand 33 percent.

Taken together with statistics recorded in January, passenger traffic in the first two months of the year at Changi Airport is 12.9 percent lower than in the same period last year.

Similarly, aircraft movements were 4.7 percent lower for January and February combined, compared with last year's figures.

There was however an increase in the amount of airfreight passing through Changi Airport, which CAG attributed to the "urgent fulfillment of backlogs after a prolonged factory shutdown in China and the extra leap-day year".

Decline in passenger movements at Changi Airport last month, compared with the same period last year.

CAG said it will continue to run various promotions to help its tenants, including the Trolls World Tour during the March school holidays.

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This article appeared on The Straits Times newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post